ELIZABETHTOWN — Bladen County voters turned out to make their voice heard Tuesday, and one of the most surprising primary upsets came in the Board of Education District 2 race, which saw Democrat challenger Berry Lewis edged incumbent Wilbur Smith, who is currently serving as chairman on the board.
Lewis drew 860 votes, while Smith garnered 738 votes.
Lewis has previously served two terms on the board, from 2006 to 2014, and served as chairman of the board for three years. He said that he is unsure at this time if he will be putting his name in the hat for the position of chairman, but does have specific goals in mind for his tenure.
“I want to listen to concerns across the county and try to get things resolved in timely manner,” he said. “And when good things happen in Bladen County schools, they need to be addressed.”
He added that he wanted to be a source of support for teachers, who are, according to him, underpaid and overworked. He sees many positive programs and much success in academics and sports in the system, and wants to make sure those achievements are highlighted.
Also notable was the narrow victory by Ken Register Jr. over incumbent Wayne Edge in the District 3 County Commissioner race. On Tuesday night, with 16 of 17 precincts reporting, the two candidates were tied with 870 votes each. The crowd, made up of candidates, family members, and the curious, waited in anticipation as the White Oak precinct had to return for a flashdrive. Runners returned to the courthouse to report that 78 people had voted for Register and 59 had chosen Edge, giving Register a scant 19-vote victory.
On Wednesday morning, Edge said that he had not decided whether or not he would request a recount. He said that he had three days to make the decision, and declined to comment on the margin of victory. Also on Wednesday, Bladen County Board of Elections director Cynthia Shaw said that she would be looking into the law regarding margin of victory and recounts.
In the N.C. House of Representatives District 22 race, incumbent Democrat William Brisson edged out challenger Ben Snyder. Bladen County voters, however, selected Snyder over the Dublin native, giving Snyder 2,725 votes, compared to Brisson’s 2,323. Two-thirds of Sampson County is in District 22, and they, combined with a portion of Johnston County, cast 1,302 votes Snyder’s way, while the voters in the two counties combined handed 2,306 votes to Brisson, tipping the scales in his favor.
In the county-wide commissioners race, which saw four candidates vying for three spots, Democrats Michael Cogdell and Jimmie smith received 2,727 and 1,334 votes, respectively, securing their spots in the November general election. Pamela Benton also landed a spot, with 1,296 votes. Avery Rising received 607 votes.
Ophelia Munn-Goins, who will be retiring from her seat on the Board of Education to chase a seat as the District 1 county commissioner, received 1,475 votes, while Anthony McKoy received 682.
“It’s in my nature to serve,” said Munn-Goins on her decision to move. “I started on the Board of Education, learned the needs of the county, and now I’m moving on to the county commissioners because I feel it’s my time to serve there.”
The Board of Education District 1 primary saw Democrat Glenn McKoy emerge a victor, securing 1,696 votes, while his opponent, Sabrina Murchison, drew 512.
In other races
More than 50 percent of Bladen County Republicans favored Donald Trump over the other candidates in the presidential race, giving him 1,399 votes. Cruz received a marginal 802 votes, and challenger Marco Rubio finished a distant third.
In the Democratic presidential race, Bladen County voters showed a preference for Hillary Clinton, who received 3,442 votes, compared to Bernie Sanders’ 1,524.
Bladen County Republicans chose Richard Burr as their U.S. Senate candidate, Pat McCrory as the N.C. governor candidate, and Buck Newton as N.C. Attorney General candidate.
Democrats in the Mother County selected Chris Rey to appear on November’s ballot in the U.S. Senate race, Ken Spaulding to be the N.C. governor candidate, and Marcus Williams to be the N.C. Attorney General candidate.
Steve Troxler was chosen by county Republicans as N.C. Commissioner of Agriculture.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.